5 Jun 2003

Fiji police arrest landowners demanding money in water dispute

7:20 am on 5 June 2003

Fiji police have arrested landowners attempting to close down a reservoir near Suva to demand 150-thousand US dollars from the state.

Radio Fiji reports that the arrests took place as a seven-day ultimatum from the landowners expired yesterday and the head of the landowning unit ordered his men to shut down the reservoir.

They want compensation from the state for the land's use for a public purpose after getting the land last September.

The landowners' lawyer, Vodo Tuberi, is quoted as saying the demand is based on the government earning millions of dollars from water supplied by the Wainibuku reservoir to tens of thousands of people in the Suva-Nausori corridor.

Meetings are scheduled between the Native Lands Trust Board and landowners' representatives today.